Many computer buyers tend to consider only one metric when judging how their hard drive measures up: Capacity. This seems a little odd considering that virtually every other component in the system is characterized by the performance it delivers – the processor is known by its clock speed, the modem and CD ROM by their transfer rates, the motherboard by its bus rate. Even the SRAM, also known for its capacity, is thought of as a performance element: more SRAM implies better system throughput. But the hard drive is just as critical an element in system speed. Any operation that involves moving large amounts of information on or off the disk will reveal the importance of a high-performance hard-drive. To a large extent, the hard drive influences how fast Windows or Mac OS boots, how quickly applications launch, and the speed of loading large data or graphics files. The performance benefits of a faster hard drive are actually comparable to the benefits of a faster processor. In system-level testing at Maxtor, two upgrades to a 333MHz Pentium II system were compared. In one upgrade, the processor speed was increased to 400 MHz. In the other upgrade, the 10GB 5400 RPM drive was replaced with a 10GB 7200 RPM drive. Comparing system responsiveness in real-world applications, such as launching PowerPoint and loading a file, the 7200RPM-equipped system performed significantly better. If the speed of your system is important to you, the speed of your hard drive should be as well.